by Kyle Swenson
Not sure how your St. Pat's went (ours was great, thank you for asking), but it probably was cake compared to this lady's day. Not that anything actually happened to Cindy Teague, if we break down the account the 52-year-old Newbury resident gave the Plain Dealer. Like thousands upon thousands of others on Saturday, she hopped on a hot, crowded Rapid, had an uncomfortable ride downtown, and got off. But unlike thousands upon thousands of others, she decided to complain to the newspaper.
Teague's account makes Saturday sound less like a logistic nightmare than New Orleans after Katrina stomped through and the levee broke: the elements overwhelmed the people (IT WAS HOT IN THOSE TRAINS!), infrastructure failed (TRAIN STOPPED IN A TUNNEL!), there was no government intervention, (WHERE WAS THE GOVERNMENT!), and thus, with society in shambles at their feet, the people fell to baser instincts (THEY WERE SMOKING WEED!)
The real head-scratcher here is why the Plain Dealer ran this story in the first place — if you're trying to paint a picture of Saturday's public transit dysfunction, you probably need to hang it on more than a single set of frayed nerves — especially when the official accounts don't seem to indicate any widespread issues.
That might be why a more comprehensive account of the debacle wasn't do-able. The most serious part of the Teague's account involves a young woman who passed out from the heat. When the train took too long pulling into Tower City, riders called 911.
But RTA sporkeswoman Mary McCahon tells the paper although the trains were jammed, “she had no reports of passengers being overcome.” The city's EMS boss says there was “no specific record of anyone calling in from the trains on Saturday” but that later “EMS did receive a call of six people who were sick or injured, but they were not found.”
If this one woman needed medical attention and got lost in the shuffle, we seriously hope she got it. But the rest of the brushstrokes in this portrait of “horrible” “terror” come off really as just crotchety barks:
Inside the crowded train, windows steamed up and passengers began to become overheated, she said. The train was so crowded, the driver skipped stops along the way, prompting some of those waiting along the track to pound on the windows of the train as it rolled by.
She said the St. Patrick's Day parade has evolved into an excuse for young people to go downtown and party. Which might explain something else she noticed on the train ride back that night.
"There was so much marijuana smoke in there that anybody could have gotten high," she said.
Honestly, we're surprised the fabric of society held tough through all that. But isn't this just an exercise in the obvious? Everyone expected this, even warned about it. No shockers here. Next up, we can't wait for a front page nail-biter on how parking lots are dirty after Brown's game.
Personally, we have a feeling these complaints have a lot more to do with that last quoted graf than anything resembling immanent public catastrophe. It might be a shame St. Patrick's Day is now just an excuse for people to see how close they can get their BAC to 1.0 before passing out under an highway overpass. But that's what it is, that's what you've got to expect. As a wise character from great literature (The Wire) once said, “You want it to be one way . . . but it's the other way.”